Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Mongiardo says Bunning cheated in their debate

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

Election 2004 page
FORT WRIGHT - Democrats are accusing Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of cheating during the taping of a political debate scheduled to be shown tonight on Northern Kentucky cable television.

But Bunning's campaign said the camp of Democrat Daniel Mongiardo, which is making the charge, is just upset that Bunning won the debate.

The accusations are the continuation of a contentious debate that was taped Monday afternoon at sites in Lexington and Washington.

It will be broadcast at 8 p.m. tonight on ICN Cable's Channel 6.

The debate was unusual to start. It was originally scheduled to be taped Monday at WKYT studios in Lexington.

But Bunning, claiming he had to stay in Washington to cast votes, participated over a video screen via a satellite hookup. Mongiardo was in the studio of the Lexington TV station.

Bunning appeared to be reading his closing and opening statements.

During a teleconference with reporters after the debate, the Southgate Republican would not answer whether he was using a TelePrompTer, a device attached to a television camera that allows the person on camera to read a script.

"We did exactly what was permitted in the agreement" worked out between the two campaigns, Bunning said Monday.

But after being questioned by reporters Tuesday, Bunning campaign manager David Young admitted a TelePrompTer was used, but contended it was permitted under the agreed-upon rules.

"Only the opening and closing statements were on a TelePrompTer," Young said in an e-mail response to questions.

"The debate agreement specifically said notes could be used and it did not specify a specific medium.

"Notes are notes," Young said.

Mongiardo campaign manager Kim Geveden called Bunning's use of a TelePrompTer "an outrageous abuse of the agreement."

"Not only is it ridiculous to compare a TelePrompTer to notes, the agreement specifically prohibited props," Geveden said. "All this TelePrompTer did was prop up a weak candidate and give him a crutch to appear more articulate than he really is.

"The bottom line is that Jim Bunning cheated in the debate," he said.

Young said it was Mongiardo's campaign that broke the rules by allowing supporters in the WKYT studio while Mongiardo participated in the debate.

"Senator Bunning's campaign representatives were shut out of the studio at WKYT," Young said, "and only Mongiardo's people were allowed in. The agreement said that we could have had four representatives in the studio, however none were allowed.

"Daniel just can't get over the fact that he got pounded in the debate," Young said.

Geveden said it was WKYT that refused to allow Bunning's supporters in its studios.

The station made the decision after Bunning refused to allow any of Mongiardo's supporters or third-party observers into the Republican National Committee headquarters studio where he appeared for the debate, he said.

"Senator Bunning's credibility on this is a house of cards," Geveden said.


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